Somehow we’re almost halfway through May and yet again the year seems to be getting away from me somewhat…how does this always happen? Ok, so there’s been another house move to contend with (the 3rd in 4 years) as well as numerous projects and events to prepare for, but I’m convinced that time speeds up the older you get!
Anyway, I’m here to tell you that the first of said events is right around the corner on May 20th & 21st:
Inspired by its hugely successful Christmas event last year, Perth Creative Exchange will again be opening its studios to the public AND hosting a market in the foyer. In partnership with Perthshire Artisans the market will showcase some of Perthshire’s best art, craft and design. Entry is free and the building is dog-friendly, so if you’re in the area pop along between 10-4.
Maggie’s Centres provide free practical, social and emotional support for people living with cancer and costs a phenomenal amount of money to run. Like many people I have experienced the devastating effect that cancer can have on loved ones. The disease is affecting more people than ever before, and with the cost of living crisis it is vital for organisations like Maggie’s to keep going so they can continue to provide this crucial support.
There will be 30 stallholders (all donating a percentage of their sales to Maggie’s), a pop-up cafe, a raffle (with prizes donated by the stallholders) and goody bags for the first visitors. Entry is a suggested £1 (donated to the charity) and it’ll be open from 11-4.
So if you’re in Tayside, it would be great to see you at one of these brilliant events! Thanks for reading and I’ll be back with more news soon.
Now and again a customer will contact me to ask if I can make a unique piece for themselves or a loved one which will incorporate an element personal to them. I don’t go out of my way to advertise the fact I can make bespoke pieces, mainly because they can be very time-consuming (not to mention nerve-wracking), and at certain times of the year it’s just too difficult to fit around everything else that’s going on.
Having said that, commissions can also be exciting, fun and educational!
Back in March I was contacted by a customer who’s husband was publishing a novel called ‘Fray’ and she wanted to give him a special, unique gift to mark the occasion. She thought my work was reminiscent of the book cover and asked if I could create something similar in diorama form; the book is set in the wilds of Glencoe and the cover artwork by Holly Ovenden features a red cottage set amongst the fir trees and mountains…
If you know my work then you’ll know that all of these things couldn’t be more right up my street if they tried! Mountains, trees, a remote cottage, an intriguing story within = some of my favourite things and what I strive for in a lot of my work. I was also very flattered and excited to be asked to make a piece to celebrate such a wonderful achievement.
As I could use Holly’s artwork as a direct reference point, and with it being very graphic in nature I initially thought “well this will be fairly straightforward”. Always foolhardy! You think I would know by now that starting a piece from scratch is always a lengthy process, even in this case when the separate layers are already quite obvious and I have a good quality image file to work from…to explain further I should really give you a quick rundown of the stages of the design process:
First of all I draw or trace out what will become the first layer, in this case the mountains with their contour lines; when I first saw the book cover design I was immediately taken by the use of contours which you would see on an OS map (again one of my favourite things to use in a diorama, but previously as an actual piece of map forming a backdrop). I thought they would look great laser-engraved onto the wood’s surface. I used to incorporate screenprinted elements in my work to create lines and pattern, but due to a lack of workspace over the past year I’ve replaced this with laser-engraving.
Even with the lines already in place in the cover design, I have to admit they took ages to get right – there was a fair bit of tweaking involved until I was satisfied they would work as engraved lines!
Then comes the 2nd layer – the land with the cottage; the cottage only measures just over 1cm wide so I knew I couldn’t attempt to paint the details of the roof, door and windows, so they all became engraing lines too. When working on this scale I always spend time ensuring no detail will be lost in the cutting process:
The same goes for the trees on the 3rd layer. At this point decisions had to be made regarding simplifying the design to make it work on a small scale (the final scene measures 8cm). This is where artistic licence comes in! I decided to reduce the number of trees and lose the reflection from the original cover design so it didn’t look too busy.
The shapes need to be solid black so that they can be turned into vector drawings readable by a laser cutter. As I have yet to join the 21st century I do this using Photoshop (rather than something like an iPad). While all this is happening I’m also thinking about how the final piece will be painted to create more depth and texture. To help me visualise the final piece I make a mock-up in Photoshop:
Once I’m happy with all the pieces, individually and together, I can then import them into Inkscape (a vector graphics editor). Inskcape enables you to transform drawings into outlines which will be cut or engraved by the laser cutter (for a deeper dive into this have a look at LaserFlair’s blog post).
The really exciting part of the process comes when the pieces are finally cut; I always hold my breath though until I know that everything looks as it should…there are a multitude of things which need to be checked and double-checked before the start button is pressed! In this case everything came out perfectly I’m glad to say:
Of course the pieces still had to be painted and assembled, and the painting on this one in particular filled me with trepidation! Opportunities for mistakes are still plentiful at this point – I was concerned about painting the black mountains neatly to avoid blocking out the contour lines, and I also hadn’t nailed down the foreground area below the trees…
It all turned out fine in the end though, and I’m very happy to report that the customer and her husband loved the finished piece. I feel very honoured that my work is now a small part of the ‘Fray’ story. I can’t wait to read it!
It might not feel like it right now due to the current wintry weather but springtime is just around the corner! The clocks will be going forward soon, bringing brighter and lighter days and lots to look forward to.
The first thing I want to tell you about is The Big Spring Bash at St Andrews Botanic Garden: ‘an action-packed weekend of interactive activities, workshops, live music and local food & drink’ PLUS a makers’ market showcasing some gorgeous local art, craft and design:
The Urban Market is in St Andrews Botanic Garden on March 25th & 26th March, and I will be there on the Saturday, 12pm – 4pm. Being a celebration of springtime, I’ll be taking lots of my flora and fauna themed work, including my bestselling wooden brooches with their super-cute new backing cards!
Admission to the whole of the Big Spring Bash is £12 (adults) & £8 (children) and tickets are available from the Botanic Garden website
In other news I’m very excited to report I’ve received funding from VACMA – Visual Artist and Craft Maker Awards – to undertake a small personal project. It will be research project on a subject which has long been on my mind…I’ll reveal more once I get started!
One more piece of big news before I go: the phenomenally popular Perthshire Open Studios is back after a year’s hiatus and I’m taking part! It will run from September6th–11th 2023 and although I might be studio-less right now, I will have something organised for September…it’s good to set yourself challenges once in a while!
I don’t know about you but I’m usually quite relieved to get January out of the way and this year is no exception. February feels to me like the start of the year proper, so to celebrate I’m offering free postage on everything in my HooperHart Folksy and Etsy stores! No need for a discount code – zero postage has already been applied, and will continue for the whole month.
A wee update on what I’ve been up to as Rudy and the Rowan Tree, the offshoot I use as a place to experiment and try out ideas which are unrelated to my Hooperhart work, and often more playful – I love creating my HooperHart pieces incidentally, but sometimes it’s nice to mix things up a bit! I’m currently loving making spirograph-inspired hanging decorations using embroidery thread and wooden discs – I call them Dream Wheels and you can find them on Folksy and Etsy Free postage also applies to my Rudy and the Rowan Tree stores for the whole of February!
Gift vouchers are go!
In other news, I wanted to draw your attention to my newly launched Gift Vouchers.They can be emailed directly to the recipient so make gifting super easy! They are exclusively available from my HooperHart Folksy store. There’s so many gorgeous products on there you might want to make it your go-to for gifts in the future though – all made in the UK to boot!
Hello and a Happy New Year to you! I hope you all had a lovely festive season and are gently easing into 2023. My start to the year went a bit awry with our Hogmanay plans being stymied by heavy snow – of course it was the first year in a long time that we decided to venture outside! Let’s hope this is not indicative of the rest of 2023.Anyway, I usually like to kick off the New Year with some cheeky wee reductions to give things a bit of a boost, so I’m here to tell you about the HooperHart and Rudy and the Rowan Tree January sales!
Well, that’s the busy season over for me for another year and I have to say it was rather frantic, but in a good way! Coming into it I was quite concerned about how it was going to go, particularly as online sales in 2022 had taken a worrying nose-dive even before the harsh reality of the Cost of Living Crisis started to kick in. However I’m pleased and relieved to report that I was very pleasantly surprised (on some occasions completely gobsmacked!) at just how many people turned out to support local events and small creative businesses. Maybe this year folk are really considering carefully how they spend their money and who they spend it with, possibly buying less but buying thoughtfully…I don’t know but whatever it is I am extremely grateful!
There is no doubt that many challenges lie ahead for most of us financially in 2023; the price of everything is rising and there can’t be a single small business in the UK who will not be affected by this. For myself, production costs have already increased substantially over the past few months…this plus a countrywide shortage of my main material (plywood) has been preying on my mind, and I know that at some point soon I will have to sit down and seriously consider how I can make changes in order to continue doing what I love and what I have worked so hard to develop over the past six years. Looking on the bright side, reflection and re-evaluation are not usually a bad thing, so I’m hopeful I can up with a workable plan!
Whatever happens I will be back next year with news of what I’m up to…in the meantime check out the sale in my Folksy shop – starting on Boxing Day!
I’ll take my leave with a massive THANK YOU to everyone who supported my artistic endeavours this year…I wish you happiness and good health this festive season!
Ooofftt! Another busy weekend (a huge thank you to the people of Perth and the team at Perth Creative Exchange) to be followed by 5 days of panicked making! But I’m on the home stretch now with my last two events of the season this week.
On Thursday December 8th I’m returning to Perth Museum and Gallery for the 2nd Christmas shopping evening. Last time was a very civilised affair with mulled wine, minced pies and a choir singing carols (some in Gaelic- a beautiful backdrop).
Then on Saturday and Sunday is the Kinkell Byre Christmas Market near St Andrews. In addition to an array of gorgeous art, design, craft there will be street food and refreshments available. This looks like a gorgeous venue with spectacular sea views so the perfect place for a spot of coastal Christmas shopping.
Another weekend gone, and we’re on to the next upcoming events! Saturday, December 3rd sees the opening of an eclectic Christmas show at the beautiful Barn Gallery at the Bield in Blackruthven.
I was part of an exhibition at this gallery 5 years ago and it’s really lovely, tucked away in gorgeous surroundings near Tibbermore in Perthshire. There will be 16 artists displaying a mix of Craft Fair and Exhibition style work, ranging from Christmas decorations to sculpture, painting, jewellery, stone carving, heritage knits, stained glass and woodwork. Opening hours are 10-4.30 (closed Mondays) and homebaking and hot drinks will be available on weekends!
Also this weekend you can find me at Creative Exchange’s Winter Market in Perth:
Creative Exchange is part of WASPS and the artists will be opening their studios around the building in addition to the market on the ground floor. Entry is free and there will be a pop-up cafe so if you’re in the Perth area pop along from 10-4 Saturday and Sunday.
Hello again! After an extremely busy weekend at Glasgow’s Kibble Palace (5000 visitors in total!) I’m back to quickly let you know what I’m up to over the next few days. On Thursday the 24th you can find me at Perth Museum & Art Gallery for a Christmas Shopping Evening
As well as selected art and craft from around Perthshire there will be free mulled wine, mince pies and entertainment, so if you’re in Perth pop along between 4-7.30pm.
On Sunday November 27th I am taking a break from HooperHart and returning to The Yard as Rudy and the Rowan Tree! I first did this market back in May, and it’s a wee gem, tucked away in a hidden courtyard. There’ll be the usual craft stalls, street food and live music so it will make for a fun day out as well as an ideal place to start ticking off your gift list. It’s also dog friendly so join us from 11-4 on Sunday.
Well, time to get back to the making or I won’t have much in the way of stock for these events!
I’ve got lots going on again this week so I’m starting with a very quick heads-up on the events front!
This Thursday evening the Double Door Festive Boutique in Dundee begins with an invite-only preview followed by selected opening times which can be viewed and booked on their website
There will be a gorgeous selection of work by Scottish designers and makers including art, jewellery, ceramics, glass, textiles, prints, cards, candles and cosmetics. Entry is free and you have until the 22nd of December to pop along!
My second event of the week is with Tea Green once again, and it’s returning for the first time since 2019 to the place of my birth – Glasgow! The venue is Kibble Palace in the city’s Botanic Gardens and you can find me there on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20th from 10-4.
I’ll be back with more news next week but in the meantime you can find details of all my upcoming events on my ‘Shop’ page. TTFN!